The repeated daily administration of moderate doses of amphetamine results in an augmentation of the behavioral response to subsequent amphetamine challenge. One feature of the augmentation is a shift in the type of perseverative behaviors to those generally associated with higher acute doses of the drug. Consistent with these observations, rats pretreated with six daily injections of amphetamine (3 mg/kg) exhibited primarily oral stereotypies to a challenge dose of 2.5 mg/kg of amphetamine, whereas control animals exhibited focused sniffing and repetitive head movements. Previously we found that the acute administration of amphetamine or methylphenidate only at doses which induce oral stereotypies promotes a rapid desensitization of striatal dopamine-stimulated adenylate cyclase. We therefore examined the effects of repeated amphetamine pretreatment on this index of D1 dopamine receptors. The administration of 2.5 mg/kg of amphetamine produced a 2-fold shift to the right in the concentration-response curve for dopamine-stimulated adenylate cyclase in animals pretreated with amphetamine, but not in saline pretreated controls. No effect of the chronic amphetamine pretreatment on dopamine stimulated cyclase in the absence of amphetamine challenge was observed. The binding of [3H]cis-flupenthixol to striatal D1 dopamine receptors was not affected by acute or chronic amphetamine. These results suggest a relationship between stimulant-induced desensitization of striatal D1 dopamine receptors and the induction of oral stereotypies.